We can’t possibly talk about a cat’s sense of taste without talking about its tongue. But, the cat’s tongue deserves its own unique mention because it serves more than just a tasting function.
A cat has fewer taste buds compared to a human tongue. The cat’s tongue detects four tastes – sweet, salt, sour and sugar. Because of the fewer taste buds, a cat relies more on her sense of smell to determine what tastes good. It’s thanks to this acute sense of smell that cats have in the past been used by royalty to test their food for poisoning. You might have also observed your cat rejecting the food you serve her just by smelling it once. She might walk away from the food or just bury it without taking a single bite.
Other than tasking, a kitty’s tongue is used as a spoon of sorts to scoop water. The tongue is flexible and when folded downwards and turned upwards again in a fast motion it forms a hollow that allows water to stay in the mouth. This way a cat is able to drink water and other liquids without spilling it.
The tongue also has papillae that look like barbs. The barbs face backwards and help in absorbing liquids so that they don’t spill. These barbs also serve to keep food in the mouth as well as tear flesh away from bones. The downside to these barbs, however, is that once they trap something that’s not part of kitty’s diet, it’s hard to remove it. Things like strings which cats like to play with are especially stubborn so you should ensure they are out of the cat’s reach.
The cat’s tongue serves a cooling purpose. During hot weather, cats pant to cool down. They also lick their fur, and when this saliva evaporates it causes cooling.
Most cat lovers like that cats are good groomers. The hate being dirty and are always cleaning up. They do this grooming using their tongue. They use their tongue to smoothen fur when it looks ruffled, and to lick dirt off the fur. They also use their tongues to dry off the furs when it’s wet.